At Heritage Treatment Foundation we leverage several treatment programs developed to address Cocaine and Crack Cocaine addiction.
Cocaine / Crack Cocaine – Description
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered, hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Crack is cocaine that has not been neutralized by an acid to make the hydrochloride salt. This form of cocaine comes in a rock crystal that can be heated and its vapours smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound heard when it is heated.
Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that interferes with the reabsorption process of dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with pleasure and movement. The build-up of dopamine causes continuous stimulation of receiving neurons, which is associated with the euphoria commonly reported by cocaine abusers.
Effects resemble those of amphetamines with a shorter duration. The person feels euphoric, energetic, and alert; has a rapid heartbeat and breathing, dilated pupils, sweating, pallor, and decreased appetite. Large doses can cause severe agitation, paranoid thinking, erratic or violent behaviour, tremors, incoordination, twitching, hallucinations, headache, pain or pressure in the chest, nausea, blurred vision, fever, muscle spasms, convulsions, and death. Impurities in street cocaine may produce a fatal allergic reaction. People may experience depression, extreme tiredness, and a stuffy nose as a “hangover” from cocaine. The use of “crack” produces immediate and very intense effects.
High-dose, chronic users, who alternate cocaine “binges” with crashes (periods of abstinence) may show mood swings, restlessness, extreme excitability, restlessness, sleep disorders, suspiciousness, hallucinations, and delusions, eating disorders, weight loss, constipation, and impotence. Characteristic signs of chronic cocaine sniffing are stuffiness and runny nose, chapped nostrils, and perforation of the nasal septum. Cocaine abuse is also associated with cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarctions, strokes, seizures, and sudden deaths. People who inject cocaine are at risk for HIV and hepatitis.
Heavy use of cocaine by pregnant women is associated with reduced fetal weight and an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and malformation. Newborns exposed to cocaine in the uterus may also experience abnormal sleep patterns, poor feeding, and irritability for several days or weeks after birth.
Tolerance and Dependence
Chronic use results in tolerance. Cocaine can produce very powerful psychological dependence leading to extremely compulsive patterns of use. In particular, the dependency-producing properties of cocaine are believed to be more powerful than any other psychoactive drug. Physical dependence may also develop.
Withdrawal symptoms may include fatigue, long but disturbed sleep, strong hunger, irritability, depression, and violence.
When people mix cocaine and alcohol consumption, they are compounding the danger each drug poses and unknowingly forming a complex chemical experiment within their bodies. The human liver combines cocaine and alcohol and manufactures a third substance, cocaethylene that intensifies cocaine’s euphoric effects, while potentially increasing the risk of sudden death.